In 2007, Gaspard Ulliel played Hannibal Lecter in “The Origins of Evil”, which precisely returned to the youth of the killer. Very first film shot in English for the actor, who also returned to this experience in 2018. Memories…
Adaptation of the novel Hannibal Rising signed Thomas Harris, published in France in 2007, Hannibal Lecter: the origins of evil was released the same year.
The director of the film, Peter Webber, summed up the story as follows, placing it in the context of the saga dedicated to the mythical killer: “This story tells of the birth of a monster, the genesis of the character. Hannibal is therefore the central role of the film, whereas previously it was only secondary.
In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter only appears on screen for 18 minutes, whereas he will be at the center of 90% of the shots here. But above all, in the previous films, he was already a monster. However, personally, it seemed to me more interesting to show how the character became this monster.”
A big underperformance at the worldwide box office – just over $82 million – while the budget was estimated at over $50 million at the time, the film’s career in French theaters did not quite end. shone in the firmament, with just over 691,000 spectators.
If we talk about the film, it’s because it nevertheless constituted an important experience for the late Gaspard Ulliel: it is indeed his very first feature film shot in English. Besides, he hadn’t immediately accepted. Hollywood pressure, the inevitable comparison with Anthony Hopkins and the language barrier dampened his enthusiasm. But very quickly, the meeting with the director, of a very European sensibility, and their discussions on the script, finished convincing him.
The choice of the actor for the main role of young Hannibal was logically a critical point of the film. Producer Dino De Laurentiis (who died in 2010) explained that he had looked for the actor for a long time: “Above all, we were looking for a mysterious face that we couldn’t find. We wanted a charming young man who was believable as an assassin.”
Gaspard Ulliel had just finished A Long Engagement Sunday when Dino De Laurentiis noticed him, on the advice of producer Tarak Ben Ammar, who had proposed the project to the actor at a party not long before.
“I immediately understood that we had our Hannibal when we saw him! We met Gaspard in Paris, then director Peter Webber had him shoot a test at my home, and the result on the screen was breathtaking. Everything was there, before our eyes: this intensity, this gaze. I remember telling Gaspard then that he was born to play Hannibal Lecter.”
“I would probably refuse the film today…”
In 2018, in a long fascinating exchange with Pierre Murat, Gaspard Ulliel notably returned to this experience. “I thought the script was very weak. It was clearly the type of movie where the producers are trying to squeeze a little more money out of a franchise, and had tried to convince Thomas Harris to write a new installment. He was d agreed, but had also asked to write the screenplay.
So we ended up with a script written by a novelist, which was not at all thought of in terms of cinema. We found ourselves, for example, discovering scenes while having to play with six props in our hands, dialogues that did not respond to each other… It was quite complicated as a shoot. […] But it allowed me to get a glimpse of a “studio” shoot”.